So I'm basically a new runner (ran track in high school years ago), as I'm just starting to get back into running now. I'm 28 and in pretty good shape, and have been running around 3x per week for the last month (I also play in a roller hockey league once a week as well). Since I was in pretty good shape to start, I began running/walking around 2-4 miles, and so far it's gone fairly well. I even signed up for a 5k in my town and ran it last Saturday in just over 27 minutes. I've been feeling better and better the more I run, but when I'm not running, I have a decent amount of muscle pain in my legs and what seems to be shin splints. This past week after the 5k run I've toned down my runs a bit, and just ran a trial run 5k in about 29 minutes at a slower pace. I've read online to do more stretching than I had been doing for the pain in my legs, and I guess the leg pain is more or less from not running for a long time to doing multiple runs per week.
I guess what I'm asking for is any advice to how much I should be doing per week and if I'm pushing it too much. I have another 5k race coming up a week from this Saturday, and I'd like to at least equal my time from the last one I ran. I have a treadmill at home as well where I mainly do some interval runs (.5 mile sprints and .25 mile walking). My goal really is two-fold - to get faster at 5k races as well as ultimately go for longer distances (i.e. 10k's and eventually a half marathon). I realize that this obviously takes a long time, and right now I'm trying to get a few 5k's under my belt to get consistent before I start doing longer distances. The good thing is every longer run I do (3-4.5 miles) it gets easier and easier and I feel better at the end every time I run. I also did just get new running shoes and I feel that's helped a lot as well.
Any advice though for improving 5k speed as well as going longer distances over time (without getting injuries) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
The simple answer is to add some 400-meter repeats and hill work along with increasing the LR schedule. Everyone is different and there are various training plans, so there is probably one that would work best for your goals. Extending the overall miles will eventually increase endurance and speed, but if your immediate focus is on the 3.1 finishing time, then you may want to try dividing your most recent 5k pace by 4 and then doing the repeats (race pace) for that period of time (with a slower recovery pace inbetween for the same amount of time).
Some leg discomfort is normal, but hydrate more with added electrolytes and look into some natural vitamins/mineral supplements. (Potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron are the first ones to look at). Be cautious about what you are already taking, current medications and so on. It may take some experimenting to find the right combination for you personally.
Finally, if you have to split some of the mileage (same day) to work up to longer routes, that might also be an option.
Thanks so much for the reply! I definitely want to incorporate more interval runs and especially hill work into my training program to work on speed and strength. I did just run another 5k race today and actually cut the time down to 24:14, which exceeded my expectations. Getting faster than that is gonna be tough, but considering I've only been running about a month and a half, I'm very happy with the results so far.
The pain in my legs and the shin splints have actually subsided a bit over the last couple of weeks (I've been icing them a lot), so hopefully that won't be much of an issue. I'll definitely try adding more electrolytes and vitamins (I do drink a lot of water already).
I think doing two smaller sessions in the same day is a great idea, though it may be tough with my work schedule and raising 2 kids. Hopefully I can eventually do that.
Right now I'm looking into running a few more 5k's for the rest of this year and then pick it up to 10k's and longer by next spring/summer while continuing my training throughout the fall/winter. Any more advice/opinions though would be great!! Thanks!!